London Film Festival: A hugely entertaining anthology film from director Damián Szifrón, starring Ricardo Darín
Announcing its disregard for subtlety, sense, lawfulness and decency from the off, this Argentinean anthology film lays out a feast of unhinged antics, introducing us to a collection of diverse characters just as they reach their tipping points.
While not of the horror genre as such, Wild Tales does deal in nightmares. The ugly side of modern humanity is reflected as if in a circus mirror: broad, warped and very funny. Gleefully taking pleasure in misfortune, it's a film that shamelessly encourages its audience to do likewise. In the tradition of omnibus features it falls somewhere between Tales from the Crypt and Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask).
Like the latter and unlike many similarly structured films, Wild Tales is written and directed by one man, Damián Szifrón, giving it a visual and thematic consistency and an overarching propulsion. The pre-credits sequence sees an embittered individual point a plane loaded with his enemies at the home of his parents, while another vignette finds an explosives expert, played by Ricardo Darín, primed to go boom as he deals with the patience-obliterating bureaucracy of parking fines. Elsewhere, there's a class tension-provoked incident of road rage that quickly becomes a fight to the death, and a wedding from hell.
Szifrón has assembled quite the cast, alongside the always excellent Darín there's Darío Grandinetti (best known here for Almodóvar's Talk to Her), María Onetto (The Headless Woman), Leonardo Sbaraglia (Intacto) and Érica Rivas as wronged bride Romina. Rivas is the movie's stand-out performer, playing a woman fixed on vengeance who lays waste to her own wedding.
The appositely titled Wild Tales is the antithesis of slow cinema, one in the eye for ponderous plots. Szifrón's jubilantly batty third feature doesn't reach the heights of classic portmanteau picture Dead of Night, but it is an exemplary example of how to combine multiple stories in a coherent, complementary and often exhilarating manner.
Screening on Sun 12 and Wed 15 Oct as part of the London Film Festival 2014. Selected release from Fri 6 Mar 2015.